After admitting defeat in its attempt to force local councils to merge, the Welsh Government has now announced its alternative proposals in a White Paper. If councils won't merge voluntarily, they will be forced to co-operate and provide shared services.
For economic development and strategic transport planning, as well as some land-use planning, councils will have to combine into just three regions. There'll be more flexibility for their other responsibilities.
The Welsh Government's starting point was that councils should combine their services to match the health board areas but it's now accepted that sometimes different arrangement will make more sense. One example is that the four most Welsh-speaking counties -Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire should co-operate in strengthening the language's economic base.
The minister will consult on the proposals before he asks the Assembly to give them the force of law. Other ideas include allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote in local elections and letting councils decide if they want to switch to elections by proportional representation.